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Telling the Story of the Request for Ordination

25 June All day

Sunday, June 25
Seoul, South Korea

Vanessa Sasson launches her new book The Gathering—a retelling of the Buddhist story of the women’s request for ordination—with a panel discussion in Seoul, South Korea, as part of the 18th Sakyaditha International Conference.

The story of the women’s request for ordination is one of the most important in the Buddhist canon. We find it in the Cullavagga, along with alternative renditions in the other Vinayas of Buddhist literature. It is a story of courage, determination, and complicated realities. It is, moreover, a story that is not confined to ancient history, but that we find reflected in contemporary monasticism, as communities continue to wrestle with the question of how the story might be understood. Vanessa R. Sasson’s new book, The Gathering (Equinox, 2023), tells the story of this request for ordination. Trained academically, Sasson presents the story in the shape of a novel, following the narrative largely as the Cullavagga recites it. Her characters, however, emerge out of the Therigatha and its commentary. In her book, women of different backgrounds walk together to ask the Buddha for access. It is a women’s march of ancient times, led by a queen who wanted to become a nun. This panel will open with a brief description of the book, followed by a conversation with the panelists, each of whom will focused on one aspect of The Gathering. The panelists include Mavis Fenn (Professor Emerita, University of Waterloo), who will focus on the intersections between text, history, and culture; Darcie Price-Wallace (a recent graduate of Northwestern University), who will speak about ordination history; and Sharon Suh (Professor at Seattle University and current president of Sakyadhita), who has experience as an author for the wider community. We hope to also include a monastic participant, to be determined at a later date.

Seoul, Korea, Republic of


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